Every week I run through the best and worst bits of the week on Emmerdale. Tell me your faves and fails in the comments! The heart-wrenching portrayal of Ashley’s dementia is balanced by big laughs in a good week of Emmerdale!
It’s impossible not to be floored by John Middleton’s impressive performances as Ashley sinks into further decline. He delivers the complexities and heartbreak of dementia so well, it’s completely crushing to watch Ashley’s drifting from childlike fixations about attending daycare, to confusions, to flashes of the man we know and love so well. The slow build-up of this story and the pressure of Ashley’s deterioration on his family is already giving us painful snapshots of how bad it’s going to get as we inch closer to his death. You can’t help but wonder what impact this will have on Laurel and her alcoholism, on Sandy, and the devastation this will have on Ashley’s children. From the chaos and confusion of the hospital scenes to Ashley having a near miss in the road, causing Diane to do an emergency stop, this is a difficult watch but an important one too. Fingers crossed that come awards season John, Charlotte Bellamy and the Emmerdale team will be honoured for this emotional and powerful story portraying an illness which affects the lives of so many.
Emmerdale made me feel extra Christmassy this week as the village light switch on happened. It was quite a low-key affair and I wish there’d been more made of it and more villagers involved because I liked what community feel it did have. The scenes where Eric and Tracy wished each other a Happy Christmas and mused that the magic of Christmas and the light spectacle was exactly what Val would have wanted was a really heart-warming touch, especially when you consider what a bad place Eric was in last year after Val’s death. Still, even with its bright Christmas deccys, the village really does miss her outlandish sparkle!
From coma patient to dream boyfriend, it would be easy to fall for Kasim Sabet and Finn’s certainly found that out this week. You go get him, Finn! There was the slight issue of Finn lying to Kasim and hanging around his hospital bed when he was unconscious but that didn’t seem to put him off too much and Kasim was happily back to his flirting best. I mean, it was slightly weird, but hey Kasim seems to like Finn despite his quirks. It’s about bloody time Finn had someone to put a smile on his face, but knowing Finn’s luck I can’t help but feel there’s something just too perfect about Kasim and their relationship and that it won’t be long before something comes between them, but for now they have chemistry and make a cute couple.
When Emmerdale does comedy, it either falls cartoonishly flat (see: Nicola sticking a clown wig on Jimmy’s head) or they pitch it perfectly. Luckily, we had a lot of the latter this week. From Brenda wrestling with a blow-up Santa and having it fall on top of her, to Cain’s lack of goodbye handshake, Charity and Chas’s double act, to Finn’s general awkwardness, Emma quoting Madonna instead of the Bible – there was a lot to balance the darker sides of the soap. One of the many comedy highlights this week was Chas and Paddy’s mishaps – first the cringey present switch and hilarious dialogue preceding the mistaken present reveal – then their playful scenes in the vets’ surgery after Rhona had set them up. I can’t say I want Chas and Paddy reunited in love, but in laughs they’re a great pair.
It was difficult decision time for Belle Dingle this week as she faced an uncertain future. With disgraced Doc Jermaine ready to pack up for a State-side job, Belle was excited about a new life in America, however that also meant giving up her recent college opportunities and the security of the home and family she’d always known. It’s a difficult one. Belle’s only seventeen and has struggled severely with her mental health, particularly in the last few months, but independence and a change of scenery might have given her some great opportunities. However, she’s fragile and would be a long way from home with a man much older than her. Belle was torn between the two sides – The Dingles vs Jermaine. I grew to like Jermaine and he was fun working behind the bar but the Jermaine and Belle relationship had a seedy and uncomfortable beginning which it could never really recover from and you couldn’t see it lasting. And the Dingles did have a point in wanting her to stay and have a bit of security, but the underhand tactics and reverse psychology did seem selfish and made the whole thing feel uncomfortable. Ultimately Belle’s decision wasn’t really her own and it didn’t feel like either side had her interests at heart. Let’s face it, her family should have known better than to treat her life like a big game. The Dingles’ big and bold nature often means they come across as smothering, but let’s get real – when you’re in a soap, unless your contract’s up you won’t be straying too far from the village and your family anyway!